USDA evaluation program releases 2014 estimates

According to recent data from the ERS Major Land Uses (MLU) series of the United States Department of Agriculture, cropland harvested has reached a 17-year high amid a decline in crop failure.

The ERS MLU series  is used to estimate the yields of land in various uses, including the acres used for crop production in a given year.

These acres are collectively called “cropland used for crops" and encompass acres of cropland harvested, acres on which crops failed, and cultivated summer fallow.

The program's most recent estimates are from 2014, when the total area of cropland used for crops was 340 million acres - an increase of 4 million acres from the 2013 estimate but in line with the 30-year average.

In 2014, cropland harvested increased by 2 percent (up to 6 million acres) over 2013. The 317 million acres of cropland harvested represented the highest harvested acreage since 1997, when cropland harvested was 321 million acres.

The area, which was double cropped (land from which two or more crops were harvested) decreased by 1 million acres, a 10 percent drop from the 2013 double-cropped area of 10 million acres.

Acres on which crops failed dropped by 25 percent over the past year to 9 million acres, the lowest level since 2010.

Cultivated summer fallow, which happens mostly as part of wheat rotations in the semi-arid West, has remained stable over the last 10 years, although its use has been decreasing since the late 1960s.

Larger historical fluctuations seen in cropland used for crops, USDA officials said, is mostly because of federal cropland acreage reduction programs.

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